Jeff Bezos, proprietor of Blue Origin, introduces a brand new lunar touchdown module known as Blue Moon throughout an occasion on the Washington Conference Middle, Might 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Pictures
The U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace on Friday denied protests from corporations affiliated with Jeff Bezos that NASA wrongly awarded a profitable astronaut lunar lander contract solely to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The complaints have been filed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Leidos’ subsidiary Dynetics.
“NASA didn’t violate procurement regulation or regulation when it determined to make just one award … the analysis of all three proposals was cheap, and in step with relevant procurement regulation, regulation, and the announcement’s phrases,” GAO managing affiliate common counsel Kenneth Patton wrote in an announcement.
The GAO ruling backs the house company’s shock announcement in April that NASA awarded SpaceX with a contract worth about $2.9 billion. SpaceX was competing with Blue Origin and Dynetics for what was anticipated to be two contracts, earlier than NASA solely awarded a single contract resulting from a lower-than-expected allocation for this system from Congress.
SpaceX, Blue Origin, Dynetics, and NASA didn’t instantly reply to CNBC’s request for remark.
Starship prototype rocket SN15 launches from Boca Chica, Texas.
The GAO protest ruling resolves a dispute round NASA’s Human Touchdown System program, one of many last key items of the company’s plan to return U.S. astronauts to the floor of the moon.
Earlier than the latest contract award, NASA had handed out almost $1 billion in idea improvement contracts – with SpaceX receiving $135 million, Dynetics 253 million, and Blue Origin receiving $579 million.
In selecting SpaceX for the subsequent spherical of improvement, NASA determined to fund a variation of SpaceX’s Starship rocket, prototypes of which SpaceX has been testing at its improvement facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
NASA plans for its astronauts to make use of Starship to switch from the company’s Orion spacecraft when the capsule reaches lunar orbit.
Shortly after NASA’s announcement in April, Blue Origin and Dynetics each filed protests with the GAO, difficult the house company’s course of and choice.
Blue Origin in April decried the award as “flawed,” saying that NASA “moved the goalposts on the final minute.”
The corporate additionally revealed that its proposal was roughly double that of SpaceX, with a bid of $5.99 billion. NASA later revealed that Dynetics’ bid was even larger, at $8.5 billion.
Shortly after flying himself to space on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight, Bezos wrote in a letter to NASA earlier this week that he would cowl as a lot as $2 billion within the house company’s prices for a lunar lander contract.
“We stand prepared to assist NASA average its technical dangers and clear up its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program again on a extra aggressive, credible, and sustainable path,” Bezos wrote within the letter.
The billionaire’s letter didn’t reference what would occur to that counteroffer if the GAO upheld NASA’s choice.